Food History

Place on the plate: Smith Island, Chesapeake Bay

The women of Smith Island are known for creating multilayered cakes for church suppers, fundraisers, and other community events. After gaining attention over the years, in 2006, Smith Island cake was named the official dessert of Maryland.

"What's on your neighbor's table..."

Like okra slime in a bowl of gumbo, questions about Southern food swirled around the minds of the Smithsonian Food History Team as we focused on this year's annual theme.

Who are the Dewdrop Fairies?

While most of us have heard of the victory gardens of World War II, you may not know that during World War I, children across the U.S. enrolled as soldiers in the United States School Garden Army, a program that promoted sustainable gardens in suburban and urban communities.

Grape gluts and Mother Clones: Prohibition and American wine

When Prohibition barred Americans from from making and selling intoxicating liquors, discover how winemakers survived (or didn't).

La Choy and Korean cofounder Ilhan New: Negotiating Asian culinary identities in America

If you are a regular shopper in the international aisle of your grocery store, you have seen La Choy soy sauce and canned chop suey. But how did La Choy get its start?

Prohibition was fantastic for American beer, or, cheers to homebrewers

Without Prohibition, would America have experienced a vibrant tradition of mid- and late-20th-century homebrewing? Probably not.

300 years and counting: A new look at New Orleans and “Creole cuisine”

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year, New Orleans is a city whose culture and cuisine have captivated the American imagination for generations.

Culinary History Made Fresh at National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is serving up American culinary traditions with a series of “Cooking Up History” demonstrations in 2018. The free, hour-long cooking demonstrations (schedule follows) feature Smithsonian food historian Ashley Rose Young paired with a guest chef each month to prepare a recipe and discuss the history of ingredients and culinary techniques, cultural background or its association with a historical period or individual. Visitors may purchase a dish inspired by the featured recipe in the museum’s cafe.

The worker's turkey

Like many homes across America, in curator Mireya Loza's home Thanksgiving meant turkey. Lots of turkeys. Five or six turkeys.

Now you're cooking with electricity!

Before Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, and Giada De Laurentiis, there was Louisan Mamer (1910–2005). An early employee of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Mamer traveled around the country teaching farmwomen how to use electricity in their daily lives. Demonstrating how to cook with electricity was a major part of Mamer's job and she developed many recipes during the course of her career.